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Spiced Pecans are salty, sweet and spicy nuts with an irresistible crunch! Add them to salads and desserts, or simply snack on them when the craving strikes!
I’ve created a bit of a problem with these Spiced Pecans…my husband Jack can’t stop eating them! These Spiced Pecans are so delicious, he keeps snacking on them and says that they are the best pecans he’s ever had!
For years, we’ve made these awesome Chinese fried walnuts. After making our latest batch, we decided to experiment a bit with a bag of pecans that we had on hand in the kitchen. We wanted a more savory and spicy taste, so we cut back a bit on the sugar and added in some cinnamon, cumin and cayenne pepper to the salt – that gets sprinkled all over the pecans after they are fried.
These spiced pecans are perfection! Boiling in sugar, then frying pecans gives them a light and crunchy texture and they aren’t greasy at all! The salty-sweet combination of flavors is enhanced by the spices, lending a gentle heat that is just perfect with the taste of the pecans!
Chef’s Tip – Consider making a double batch of these fried nuts so you always have some on hand.
Why You’ll Love Spiced Pecans
- They are delicious – and versatile! Toss them on salads, chop them up and add them to brownies, or enjoy them as a snack.
- Easy to make and they store well in an air-tight container.
- You can change up the flavors to suit your tastes with different spices.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Whole Pecan Halves – For the best results, choose pecan halves for this recipe, rather than chopped or broken pecan pieces. (The smaller pieces will immediately scorch in the hot oil.)
- Granulated Sugar – Although these nuts are primarily savory, you’ll sprinkle the nuts with sugar before frying. You can adjust the underlying sweetness of the nuts by using more or less sugar.
- Spices – In addition to salt, you’ll season the fried nuts with a mix of cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and cumin. Add more or less cayenne to suit your taste – as written, the spice level is distinct, but not overly spicy.
- Oil – We used canola oil to fry our pecans, but any neutral oil with a high smoke point can be used such as vegetable oil or grapeseed oil. We don’t recommend peanut oil as it would introduce a flavor to the nuts and change the taste.
Special Supplies Needed
- Small, medium and large bowls
- Large, deep-sided skillet or heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, for frying
- Candy/deep-fry thermometer
- Spider strainer or long-handled slotted spoon
How to Fry Pecans
- Combine salt and spices together in a small bowl, then set aside
- Bring a large saucepan full of water to a boil.
- Add the pecan halves, bring back to a boil, then cook for one minute.
- Drain and rinse the nuts under running hot water – then pat to dry with a paper towel.
- Pour the drained nuts into a large bowl and sprinkle with sugar, then toss to coat the nuts.
- Line a sheet tray with parchment paper or wax paper, then set aside.
- Place a colander over a medium bowl. Have two spider strainers or long-handled slotted spoons nearby.
- Heat the oil in the skillet or saucepan to 350 degrees F.
- Gently place the sugared nuts into the hot oil using the spider strainer. (Be careful – the any moisture left on the nuts WILL splatter as they hit the hot oil.)
- Fry the pecan halves, stirring often.
- Transfer fried pecans to the colander you’ve placed over the bowl to drain. Sprinkle with some of the salt and spice mixture.
- Once cool enough to handle, transfer the spiced nuts to the sheet tray to cool completely. You may need to break apart the nuts if they stick together as they cool.
- Store cooled nuts in an air-tight container or glass jar.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I store Spiced Pecans? First things, first – it’s important to fully cool any kind of fried nuts before storing. Place them in an airtight container (a glass jar with a tight lid is best) and store in a cool cabinet for up to a month. Avoid refrigeration – the nuts will lose their crunchy texture.
How do I serve Spiced Pecans? We love adding these to salads including our Mixed Greens with Pears, Goat Cheese, Dried Cranberries and Spiced Pecans. They would also be delicious chopped and added to our Mexican Brownies recipe, or added to the top of a cake for a touch of spicy flavor.
You might like these other recipes with pecans:
- Quinoa Salad with Pecans, Orange and Currants
- Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
- Pecan Date Butter
- Toffee Pecan Bundt Cake with Caramel Drizzle
- Turkey Salad with Cranberries and Toasted Pecans
We love seeing what you made! Tag us on Instagram at @afamilyfeast or hashtag #afamilyfeast so we can see your creations!
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 cups water
4 cups whole pecan halves (approximately 1 pound)
1/4 cup sugar
- In a small bowl, add cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, salt and mix to combine. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan over high heat, heat 6 cups of water to boiling. Add pecans and bring back to a boil. Cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse under running hot water. Drain completely and blot dry as much as possible with paper towels.
- Pour drained nuts into a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and toss to coat the nuts completely with the sugar.
- Line a sheet tray with parchment or waxed paper and set aside. Place a small to medium colander over a medium bowl and set aside. Have two small spiders, strainers or slotted spoons standing by.
- In a deep-sided skillet or saucepan, heat about 1 inch of canola oil to 350 degrees. (It’s recommended that you use a candy thermometer to make sure that you have the oil at the correct temperature – too hot will burn the nuts, too cool will not cook the nuts quickly enough and you won’t get the crisp texture.)
- Once the oil is at 350 degrees, with a slotted spoon (a ‘spider strainer’ like this works really well for this task), carefully add about half of the pecans to the oil (be careful as the wet nuts being added to the oil will splatter up!). The oil temperature will drop so keep the flame high to recover back to 350 while they fry. Fry for three minutes – stirring often. Note: Do not fry past three minutes or they will burn and taste bitter.
- With two slotted spoons, or two spiders or strainers, remove pecans from the oil and place into a the colander over the bowl to drain. Sprinkle with half of the salt-spice mixture and keep tossing the pecans so that they don’t stick together as they cool. Transfer the pecans to the prepared sheet tray to cool completely. Make sure the oil is back to 350 and hasn’t risen past that temperature. If so remove from the burner to cool back to 350 degrees F. Repeat with the remaining pecans.
- Store cooled nuts in a tightly covered container.
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